STB Mulls Changing Emergency Service Rules

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is considering amending its emergency service regulations “to provide relief for shippers in situations that require immediate relief.”

The agency said in a proposed rulemaking notice that it will consider changes in how shippers can seek an emergency service order, which is defined as “designed to preserve rail service where there has been a substantial rail service issue or failure that requires immediate relief.”

The rulemaking notice also indicated the STB will consider acting on its own to issue an emergency service order rather than waiting for shippers to seek one.

Other changes in procedure the Board will consider include modifying the informational requirements for parties in emergency service proceedings; shortening the filing deadlines in emergency service proceedings and establishment of a timeframe for Board decisions; and establishing an accelerated process for certain acute service emergencies.

In its rule making notice, the STB said these changes will enable it “to order temporary relief in emergency situations more quickly and effectively, to more rapidly ensure that localized problems do not spread to other parts of the network, and to give parties involved in emergency situations (both rail carriers and shippers) more certainty on the resolution of those issues.”

The STB is taking public comment on the proposed rule changes through May 23. Replies to those comments will be due by June 6.

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